Cole suffers spinal contusion; puts his career in jeopardy heading into contract year

DETROIT >> Erik Cole’s NHL career could be over.

Cole announced Wednesday that he’s out for the rest of the season after suffering a spinal contusion on March 24 against the Arizona Coyotes.

“I consulted with a few doctors last week and I’ve been advised not to play the remainder of this season,” Cole said. “Just really disappointing, I was looking forward to be a part of the playoff run here and helping this team make a run to the Cup and I’m not gonna be able to do that.”

Cole skated for the first time in eight days during the Wings’ optional skate at Joe Louis Arena, Wednesday.

“Right now it’s just a wait and see and reevaluate the situation once everything is done,” Cole said. “I mean I could probably run around the country and the world looking for doctors to do something right now but I don’t think there’s anything that’s a real short-term fix for it.

“When you have a contusion like that, it’ll affect your nerves, can affect your motor functions, can be a bit clumsy even sending a text message or something like that,” Cole continued. “So something I definitely need to take serious and be careful with.”

Cole suffered a fractured vertebra while with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, an injury that kept him sidelined until Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

“So it stems back from my neck injury back in 2006 and when I ran into the player in the Arizona game, I bruised my spinal cord,” Cole said. “A spinal contusion is something that you have to let heal and obviously, a pretty serious occurrence. Something that at this time they feel I need to be looking out for my well-being as a person, not just as a hockey player.”

Surgery is an option, but Cole hasn’t discussed that further with the doctors.

“My understanding is that there’s not quick fix for this,” Cole said. “There’s nothing that can cure it in the short-term except for time. It’s just gonna be one of those things where I’m just gonna have to kind of rest a bit. I wanna obviously stay active and stay around the guys. The organization and the medical staff, the coaching staff and the players have all been really great to me over the last week.

“It’s been a pretty difficult pill to swallow and it was tough to stand up here in front of the guys and inform them of the news,” Cole continued. “I took most of last week and this past weekend I was in Carolina for Easter so I just wanted to let things sink in a bit and come back here and hopefully be a positive influence on the fellas and help out any way that I can.”

The Wing obtained Cole the night before the trade deadline from the Dallas Stars for a pair of prospects – Mattias Janmark (center) and Mattias Backman (defenseman), who are both playing in Sweden – and a second-round pick.

Cole, 36, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

“I mean I’m sure that teams are gonna be scared regardless,” Cole said when asked about his upcoming free agency. “I’m certain that at my age and my stage of my career I wasn’t expecting too many big offers coming across the table. It’s the least of my worries right now, it’s just about being a healthy individual and worrying about my future and being able to play with my kids and things like that.”

Cole finished the season with 21 goals and 18 assists in 68 games.


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